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This 22-Year-Old Builds Chips in His Parents' Garage

Sam Zeloof with homemade computer chip

Sam Zeloof completed this homemade computer chip with 1,200 transistors, seen under a magnifying glass, in August 2021.

Credit: Sam Kang / Wired

With a collection of salvaged and homemade equipment, 22-year-old Sam Zeloof in August produced a chip with 1,200 transistors. He had sliced up wafers of silicon, patterned them with microscopic designs using ultraviolet light, and dunked them in acid by hand, documenting the process on YouTube and his blog. "Maybe it's overconfidence, but I have a mentality that another human figured it out, so I can too, even if maybe it takes me longer," he says

Zeloof's chip was his second. He argues only half-jokingly that he's making faster progress than the semiconductor industry did in its early days. His second chip has 200 times as many transistors as his first, a growth rate outpacing Moore's law.

Zeloof is studying electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and says he doesn't know for sure what he wants to do after graduating this spring, but he has been thinking about the place DIY chipmaking might have in the modern tech ecosystem. "I want to push garage silicon further and open people's minds to the possibility that we can do some of this stuff at home," he says.

From Wired
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